3 Months to her 1st Birthday Party

My Matty turned 9 months old yesterday and I have already some ideas for her party theme and the deco details. And the CAKE! I have always loved tiered cakes and I also have a bakery in mind: Pine’s Garden Bakery. Here are some of the inspirations I got from Pinterest:

 

pretty cake without bunny, mini fresh flowers cake topper instead. Icing embroidery look, layered bottom tier of cake.

I am looking to have the party at my auntie’s condominium function room and hopefully we can manage to secure the place on the date we want.

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Heguru Seems to Work

Not sure if it was just pure coincidence or what, but it seems that Heguru Right Brain Training has started to take some effects on both 9 old month old Matty, and even for myself, as I attend the class with her. We only had 3 lessons thus far.

Matty was able to sit still and pay attention longer while the teacher was conducting the class. Initially, I attributed it that she had a good nap and drank well before lesson commenced. I found myself blending into the routine of the class better as initially, I really had many doubts and found some of the activities bizarre. For the number memory game, I actually improved in memorizing a string of 10 digit number. I dont know how I did it and neither did I practiced this at home, but I was surprised. I commented to the teacher that I actually improved !

After the lesson, I feedbacked to the teacher that I felt that Matty had better attention span. I shared that she is more interested in books than flashcards, so she suggested that I take advantage of it and aim to read 10 stories to her a day. This will be my next challenge.

I have been practicing the Mandela, high speed flashcards, faster reading and I just received my Tangram puzzle and red dot cards today. I am getting more excited to practice with her daily but not sure if I can do it correctly though.

The other day, I tried speed reading with her and she was able to hold her attention at the book longer. And today, she held her attention for about 90% till the end of the book. I was kind of at disbelief. Questions like ” Was it Heguru? Maybe this is her favourite book? Was it the speed reading?” flooded my mind. Still unsure, but I will definitely keep this speed reading going on.

Wonders of Establishing a Routine for your Baby

I have learnt the wonders of establishing a sleep/eat/play routine for my baby because I have quite erratic hours on some days because I am a part time tutor and also a full time stay at home mother. I am all alone with no help from parents or nannies, it is just me or my husband, and I bring my baby along to work. Hence, having a routine helps me to prepare my baby and myself better.

Below are some of the main reasons which I am sharing from my personal experience and I really hope that every parent will have a smoother journey.

1.) Scheduling for Appointments Made Easier

So, you are asked to make an appointment with baby tagging along, how do you arrive at the decision to specify the timing? And remember that you have to make allowance for travelling and preparation time. Do you just decide based on your own convenience, wild guess or take your baby’s cues?  I scheduled her weekly swim class at 9am because I know she wakes up usually at about 730am for milk and then her cereal breakfast. We leave at 8.15am to make it on time for the lesson which lasts for 30mins. Her naptime is about 930am which is just in time after her swim. So she will usually be asleep in my arms on the bus while on the way home. This way, I will not have scheduled her swim class to be 930am or 10am which means im delaying her naptime and I will have an overtired baby. I reach home at about 1030am and she continues her nap in the cot.

2.) Regular Mealtimes for Babies

Having a routine means you know when to feed your baby on time, without overfeeding them or making them go hungry for too long. Having regular meal on time is essential for good eating habits to help to prevent health related problems in later life phases such as gastric problems or obesity.

So if you know when is your baby’s next feed, you will also know how much milk to bring along if you are going out, especially if you are not breastfeeding. If your baby is taking solid food, you can prepare on time beforehand. See my sharing on Planning Baby Meals to see how you can prepare better.

3.) Avoid an Overtired and Cranky Baby

When your baby is on routine, you will know when is it that they are already feeling tired and you can prepare them for nap/bedtime. Having delay their sleep for too long will result in them, being overtired and cranky.

My daughter is 8 months old now and never had a pacifier thus far, because when she is cranky, I can predict better her needs and not at a loss of how to deal with it. Dont get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with pacifiers and having one, it is just that we do not want to introduce it and later have to wean her from it and the hassles along with it. My point is, sometimes if you can tune in to a baby’s cranky behavior, a pacifier can be out of the picture.

4.) Baby Sleep Problems Become a Myth

People who know me are amazed at how do I get the spare energy for household chores, my part time job and yoga practices at night when I have a baby on hand. The key essential element is all got to do with your baby’ sleep pattern. If babies have sleep problems, very high tendency for parents to be sleep deprived too because babies wake up at odd hours and parents follow suit. Some of my friends are amazed that my face still look radiant despite being a mother and from this you can tell, many parents from sleep deprivation. It is not my make up or whatsoever because nothing can hide if you are not sleeping well and your face will show it all. No amount of beauty treatment can match to the effects of sleeping well.

We have set the stage for my baby to have a regular sleep pattern and environment since she was born and our efforts pay off really well. Not entirely perfect  everytime of course, but good enough to keep us sane and functioning normally. She wakes up at about 730am, Nap #1 from about 9am-11am, Nap #2 from about 1pm-3pm and Nap #3 from about 530-6pm ( short cat nap). Her bedtime is between 8-9pm and normally she doesnt wake up in the middle of night unless she has some discomfort or thirst. She had weaned her night feeding when she was 2 months old plus.

Technically speaking, I “knocked off” as a mother by 9pm or when he is back at 630pm, I will leave at 7pm for my yoga practice while he handles the baby. My husband is not terrified of handling the baby alone because he knows she will knock out by 9pm as he is able to predict based on the routine. At the same time, I can be assured that both of them are doing well and I can concentrate on my yoga.

5.) Efficiency Doubles Up

Now that I can predict better when is my baby’s nap time, it helps me to prepare better for whatever I am going to do for that day. For example, when it is her activity time and she plays by herself in her exersaucer or playpen. I can prepare the ingredients for cooking so that if she cries for me, I can attend to her and leave the veggies half chopped. No problem with that. When she is napping, my ingredients are already all prepped up, I can begin cooking with peace of mind, without having to run in and out of the kitchen and leave the stove on. Really not advisable! Lunch will then be ready before she is up.

I can also get a quick shower and not risked running out half done in a towel. Been there and done that. Her nap time is my best time to take a quick nap too. Or, I can do some last minute diaper bag packing or cleaning before we leave the house. And when she is awake, viola! We are ready to go.

Overview of my baby’s routine on a typical day when we are at home for the whole day

7 30: Wakes up for milk and breakfast

9 00: Nap #1

11 00: Wakes up from nap and have activities

11 30: Milk

12 30: Lunch

13 00: Nap #2

15 00: Wakes up from nap and have acitivities

15 30: Milk and snacks.

16 00: Activities

17 30: Short nap for 30mins

18 00: Dinner

18 30 : Bath and activities

20 00: Last feed to tank her up to get through the night/ brush her baby teeth/ lights dimmed/ bedtime story/ all activities stop to wind her down for bed.

This is not the best and perfect sleep routine as many baby sleep consultants will tell you that babies’ bedtime ought to be 7pm or by 8pm. We have not work to that stage yet due to the nature of my job and this is by far what we have achieved and we are pretty comfortable with it. For more, read the ” The Secrets of the Sleep Whisperer” by Tracy Hogg. It takes time, practice, consistency, hard work and love.

Disappointed by the Parenting Magazine

Recently, my husband brought back one of the local best selling motherhood magazines as he had gotten it for free. I was disappointed to see that it was that particular pretty faced personality covering the front page again. Not one of those A lists, but that is not the reason why, nothing to do with her entertainment performance level. I was mainly disappointed by the chief editor of the magazine. Here’s why.

A couple of years back, I was a single fresh graduate who knew nothing much about parenting and babies. I walked past a newspaper stand and saw the media celebrity endorsing on the same magazine as she had just given birth to her first boy that time. Her words in bold, ” I want him to be a Casanova.” Even then, I frowned and revolted with some disgust inside of me.

So let’s define what is the full meaning of being a Casanova. I Googled and urbandictionary.com defines it as: A smooth-talking charmer who has mastered the art of finding, meeting, attracting and seducing beautiful women into the bedroom. One he accomplishes his goal, he leaves the woman in fear of having a relationship and proceeds to find his next conquest.

This year, she is on the coverpage again and she has 3 boys now. I read her story and readers are reminded that from the previous issue, she wants her eldest son ” to have Casanova-like qualities“. She went on to share that now ” He is good looking and quite the Casanova as lots of girls chase him. He also changes girlfriends often. ” The boy is only less than 10 years old now. The story even went on to say that she wants them to be CEOs in the future and she is in charge of moulding her sons’ personalities by controlling every aspect of their lives. I am not clear what is her rationale behind wanting him to be a successful yet a Casanova. In fact, I feel extremely ashamed that these are coming from the parenting magazine in my country.

Why is the Chief Editor even allowing someone who bares such statements to the parents? Especially in a parenting magazine where parents are looking for inspirations, encouragement and baby trends. My stand is that I am not against her personal wish to desire that for her son and neither do I have any personal prejudice against her as an entertainment artiste.

What is the message is the editor trying to send to the parents who are reading the magazines?

I know that parents are not so naive to tag along with such an aspiration but I believe there has to be a benchmark set somewhere. National media regulators have to play a part and be responsible for what they are saying, especially when it is a parenting magazine which may influence how parents shape and mould their children’s personalities. Though is is not the publisher’s job to educate the kids, they are responsible for what content that channels through.

It is sometimes little wonder that family values start to erode away because the mainstream media made it seem acceptable to do this and that. On top of that, they dress up the stories with public figures so that it seems like since they do it, so let’s do it too. We see this as a norm in fashion and the entertainment industries, but such moral degrading is infiltrating into parenting and families.

I am even more appalled that the Editor is a mother herself and I was not very sure what she was thinking exactly when she decided to let this thing go to print. I hope I havent distorted or exaggerated any facts, this is just my humble opinion when I saw this story.

Whatever it is, this magazine is now like downright dirt cheap to me. Better off to be recycled than stay on my shelf.

Planning your Baby’s Meals Ahead

I have been brought up eating homecooked food by my late grandmother throughout my growing years and even as a busy working part time mother and stay at home mom, I am committed to bring up Matilda the same way. I believe good nutrition starts from home and the heart. I have been cooking for her since she started weaning and I am always constantly ensuring she is eating well, trying with new ingredients. Fresh ones.

I came across this term ” Baby Weekly Meal Planner’ in my baby weaning reference book by Annabel Karmel. Basically, it is to draft out what your baby is going to have for breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner for the week. It is simple, just draw out a table with 7 columns for 7 days of the week and 4 rows across the columns to indicate ” Breakfast/ Lunch/ Teatime/ Dinner”. Fill in with the recipe name within the boxes.

I dont usually plan one but when I predict that the coming week may be hectic and more unpredictable, I will plan one to ensure that my baby has enough food and that I am not over exhausted out from rushing to shop for groceries and to cook. It is also a bit more challenging to find time and energy to cook for 8months old Matilda as her gourmet repertoire expands and also for ourselves.

So, here’s my personal insights on why you would want to have a weekly meal planner.

1.) Saves time and costs on groceries

Have you ever been caught in situations where cooking is aborted because you forget to buy certain ingredients or simply run out of it? Meal planning helps you to see the overview for that week and you can get all the ingredients you need in one or two groceries shopping trips. And the best part is there might be some discounts when you buy more.

2.) Reduce throwing out expired ingredients

For that week, have recipes that contain a few common ingredients so that you are not just getting a particular vegetable just for that dish only. Because usually, some extras usually ended up turning bad or we used that ingredient just once and probably chuck it aside until we forgot about it. For example, I will make Braised Beef and Chicken Stew, so I know I will have carrots and sweet potatoes as the common ingredients. I will probably not make Spinach with Fish and Braised Beef together as that means I will have to get more different ingredients altogether.

3.) Makes meals storage manageable

Unless you really have more time on hand and cooks fresh daily, or have a big fridge and plenty of storage cups, you need to work out if there are enough storage cups or fridge space to go around. I ever got over ambitious and made 2 dishes in one session and forgotten that I had some meals in the storage cups in the freezer. I ended up using other food containers of all sorts and squeezed them into the freezer. You can also calculate the number of portions you will get from the recipes or something else you have worked out based on your child’s consumption.

4.) Extras for the dinner table

Dont be surprised that actually there are many baby food recipes that taste so good even without seasoning. Planning for meals for your baby may also mean you can cook extra and serve them on the dinner table for the entire family. For me, I cook extras for my dog and stopped buying dog canned food and save a huge chunk. My dog loves baby food too!

It takes some practice, patience and lots of love to do it for your child. The results is often fulfilling and remarkable. I like to share what I cooked on my Instagram. Follow me on Instagram @mamaandmatilda.

A Very Colorful Bath

A very colorful bath

A very colorful bath

This is a short sharing of how I like to teach my baby about colors and numbers during one of her favourite activities – bathtime. Most babies enjoy baths and they get them into a relaxed mood with the sweet smelling shampoos. Bathtimes help us bond. I like to take time while I scoop warm water over her, splash the water a little and sing a bath song. She enjoys patting and kicking the water, tries to catch her bath toys and practices her breath holding by pouring water over her face as part of the routine from her swim lesson.

Bath time not only cleans up the baby but is a great time for learning as well.

I recommend to carry out this activity when your baby can sit up unsupported. Some babies may be surprised to see the same toys which they are familiar outside bath time, suddenly appearing in their tub. My baby squeals and pats the water to show her delight and surprise. I took the color balls which came along with her playmat.

The learning activity starts after the cleaning is completed in case your baby feels tired and wants to get out of the water.

How:

1.) Put in one of each 4-5 different single solid colored balls/toys into the bath water. This is so that they can concentrate better.

2.) Introduce the colors by pointing while the ball is in the baby’s hand or yours. Say ” This is yellow/red/blue/green/orange color“. Take turn to introduce all colors and repeat again.

3.) While introducing the colors, you can also prompt baby to take the ball from your hand and let them appreciate and observe the ball in their own hands.

4.) As weeks progress, you can also teach numbers by having probably have more quantity of the same colored toys when baby is comfortable with the entire idea of spending longer time in bath. For example, 1 red ball, 2 yellow balls, 3 green balls, 4 blue balls.

Consistency is the key. Enjoy bathing and have fun.

Gadget Kids Knows No Play but Apps

Read a tweet on an article ( http://www.greenchildmagazine.com/children-technology-addiction/ ) by Green Child Magazine related to what my husband and I had discussed some time ago- Will our daughter have an iPad of her own next time? ( I dont even own any!) As a tutor, I have heard from parents whose kids can hardly put down their tablets, usually iPads. Besides addicting to it, they have myopia earlier and their eyesight deteriorates even more rapidly. They could play from right after school till mealtime and still playing while having their meals, have to be nagged to go get a shower and then do their homework. Once the tasks are done, they play again till they go to bed.

Parents, however, praise that these iPads work like magic to hush them when they bring them out on the the public transport or to other places. They dont monkey around and they wont disturb or call for your attention. The kids play with their tablets, parents fix on their own phone screens and hardly any communication takes place. Aren’t these scenes a norm on the trains and buses now?

Personally, I am not against tablets or any of these brilliant innovative compnies. I think they are awesome and indeed have brought much convenience and a whole new level of entertainment at our finger tips.

Back to our discussion, we will probably not let her have her own tablet and that she must seek our permission if she wants to play with our phones or his tablet. I applaud for companies that develop great game apps with the best intention to educate but when these kids into these “educational apps”, it becomes a form of gadget addiction. I believe many parents started with the positive notion that it is fine to let them play with the gadgets as these apps really do teach them some songs and ABCs. But, they later then realize it is hard to stop them when the kids got lured to other apps eventually, through app advertisements, of course.

I find it a pity that when kids go out these days, they miss out many learning and discovering opportunities surrounding them as their faces are buried in the screens. In addition, because of the fast motions and thrills of the games, it can cause children to have lack of attention span in other areas, such as reading a book, slower paced games involving toys and probably affecting their academics performance because they can’t concentrate and stay put staring at static stuffs. Parents will later then resort to confiscation and the kids will have the cold turkey effect, begging older siblings to lend them their gadgets. Older siblings will then restrict their usage time or forbid it, another reason for siblings squabbling. I have seen these happened.

The article discusses some of the ways we can discourage being addicted to gadgets. One of them is having parents set as a role model and not a technology junkie themselves. I am kinda guilty here because while I watch my 8month old play with her toys, I get bored after awhile and have this thing in me to reach to my phone to check on my social media accounts or Whatsapp messages. My baby then realized I was engrossed with my phone, she stopped what she was playing with and crawled over and checked out my phone too. She too, stared at the glaring screen and wanted it for herself.

There and then, it hit me that I was sending her a message that my phone seems more interesting that whatever toys she was playing with. Imagine she is only 8 months old and she is already aware of this gadget that Mummy is so engrossed with. Come when she is older, she will want one for herself too! Well, afterall, most of her peers would probably have one of their own too.

The thing is this, be it adults or young children, the gadget is an extremely seductive tool that captures away our attention in a snap. It steals your attention away to what may be more important and priceless; communication with your loved ones, watching your children play and achieve some milestones, studying for exams, appreciating the environment and jeopardizing lives . As a driver, I have deliberately honked extremely loudly at jaywalkers who have earphones on and eyes fix on their gadgets, to shake them out of their virtual world and back to the road.

I appreciate this article very much as it sends me a reminder to keep my phone away while I enjoy my moments with my child. It only takes blinks of eyes and they will be grown. And when that time comes for my child to be conscious enough of wanting to have her own tablet, we will probably question her what is her objective of having her own tablet and what does she want to do with it? Reasons related to peer pressure is not enough to propel me to buy her one and I have no qualm about her being at the ” losing position of being outdated” so she could be in the group of friends. If she is going to use our gadgets, rules do apply.

Like how the article ends, ” There’s no app that can replace the importance of play and time spent in nature.”

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. This dish tastes naturally sweet, thanks to the carrots and tomatoes used. It also has a strong savoury taste from the cheddar cheese that goes very well with the salmon fish. As usual, I have also added baby pasta to go along with it. Ideal for introducing texture into baby’s food

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Salmon with Carrots and Tomatoes

Fish with Spinach and Cheese

Fish with Spinach and Cheese

Fish with Spinach and Cheese

This is a recipe from Annabel Karmel’s ” The Healthy Baby Meal Planner”. Combining cheese sauce with fish and vegetables is a good way to hide some of these food if baby doesnt like them. The creamy cheese does a very good job of masking the bitter taste of spinach and is extremely yummy.

What I love about this dish is the use of some peppercorn and bay leaf which gives this dish its distinctive aroma. I substituted codfish with flounder fish because I like codfish for its less fishy smell, lesser bones and high in DHA content. This dish is full iron packed with spinach for young babies’ growth at this stage. I also like to add in baby pasta to add texture. Matilda, like me, loves pasta very much.

Fish with Spinach and Chese

Fish with Spinach and Chese